Historic SpaceX flight commemorated on Houston postmark

A pictorial postmark depicting the SpaceX Crew Dragon arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) was recently offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

The historic docking – completed on May 31 after a 19-hour voyage beginning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – was the first crewed spaceflight from a private company. It was also the first time a human has left for space from U.S. soil since the final mission of the Space Shuttle program led by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2011.

The company behind the recent launch is SpaceX, whose brainchild Elon Musk ventured into spaceflight in 2002, using $100 million from his PayPal payout. With the aim of getting humans in space – originally planning to grow plants on Mars – Musk began exploring how to produce rockets. After three failed launches from 2006-08, a SpaceX rocket carried a satellite into orbit in 2009.

“This is the culmination of a dream,” Musk told CBS before the launch. “This is a dream come true.”

The eccentric billionaire is now planning to focus his resources on his Starship, which he’s hoping to fund through a multi-billion-dollar telecom company called Starlink.

On June 18, the Globe & Mail reported SpaceX recently applied for a Basic International Telecommunications Services (BITS) licence from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The plan is to provide high-speed internet directly to rural residences and businesses through SpaceX’s existing network of near-Earth satellites.

“With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” reads the Starlink website.

“Starlink is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”

(Photo by collectSPACE)

‘CREW DRAGON IN EARTH ORBIT’

The rectangular postmark was available on request from a post office in Houston, Texas, that services the nearby Johnson Space Center, which was the flight control room for the recent SpaceX mission.

The postmark shows the Crew Dragon approaching the ISS from below with its capsule’s nose cone deployed and ready to dock to a port on the station’s Harmony module. The words “ISS Mission Control Station” are written along the top of the marking with “Houston, TX 77058” along the bottom. The phrase “Crew Dragon in Earth Orbit” is also shown just below the design.

The USPS offers pictorial postmarks “as a community service” to commemorate local events celebrated in communities throughout the nation, according to its website. People attending local events can acquire the postmarks there in person at temporary post office stations; however, mail-order requests are also taken by the postal service. Pictorial postmarks are available only for a limited time, and requests must be postmarked no later than 30 days following the requested pictorial postmark date.

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